The Washington area and forecasters passed their first snow test of the winter.

Amounts were in line with what was predicted. Meanwhile, the snow mostly didn’t stick to roads — minimizing disruptions around the region.

It also helped that the snow fell gently on a Saturday while schools were out and most federal workers were off.

The region’s first measurable snow fell right on time. The average date of the Washington area’s first accumulating snowfall is between Dec. 10 and 15. Even so, it was the first accumulating snowfall in Washington during December since 2013.


All three airports posted record snow totals for Dec. 9. Reagan National Airport received 2 inches, Washington Dulles International Airport 4 inches and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport 2.6 inches, all besting the previous record amounts, set in 2005.

Most spots inside the Beltway picked up about 2 inches.

The lowest totals — around an inch —  focused along the Potomac River south of Washington and well to the northwest along Interstate 81 from Winchester to Hagerstown (and to the west).

The heaviest amounts, in the 3- to 6-inch range, occurred well north of the Beltway and well to the southeast in Virginia’s Northern Neck and far-southern Maryland.

Here are some other select totals:

  • Rosslyn: 1.2 inches
  • Fredericksburg: 1.2 inches
  • Dale City: 2 inches
  • Falls Church: 2.2 inches
  • National Zoo: 2.4 inches
  • Fairfax City: 2.5 inches
  • Leesburg: 3 inches
  • Annapolis: 3 inches
  • Columbia: 3 inches
  • Herndon: 3.2 inches
  • Centreville: 3.5 inches
  • Ellicott City: 3.5 inches
  • Gaithersburg: 3.5 inches
  • Westminster (Carroll County, Md.): 4.5 inches
  • Damascus: 5.2 inches
  • Germantown: 5.5 inches
  • Ridge (St. Mary’s County, Md.): 6.2 inches

How was the forecast?

When we compare what fell vs. what was predicted, the match is quite good. Most locations received 1 to 4 inches, as forecast.

Amounts in our far-northern suburbs, which were as high as 4 to 6 inches in some spots (northern Montgomery County, for example), exceeded our most-likely prediction and entered “boom territory.”

While a zone of heavier snow did set up well south and southeast of Washington, some of our southern areas (around Fredericksburg, for example) received less snow than expected.

The snow started later than we first forecast Saturday morning and ended a little later. Otherwise, it more or less fell into our predicted timeline.

In our assessment of storm impacts on a 1-to-5 scale, we rated this a Level 1 “nuisance” storm, one level below “disruptive,” which was an accurate characterization for folks who needed to be out and about Saturday. If anything, we were surprised how little the snow stuck to roads, since temperatures fell below freezing in most spots. But road temperatures were fairly warm, and the snow — while moderate at times — would have needed to fall at a faster clip more consistently to overcome those mild road temperatures.

How would you grade our forecast?

Some photos of our first snow